Forget about redcoats and organised fun, today’s family holidays boast luxury destinations, tailor-made children’s activities, and plenty of parental relaxation. Emirates Woman Mini reveals our top picks…
1. EASTERN DELIGHT
The beauty of this beachside Balinese gem is that there’s ample to entertain the children without the grown-ups having to compromise on style or luxury.
The hotel is a tour de force of beach chic, featuring large ocean-facing suites (big enough for a family of four) with private outdoor Jacuzzis overlooking the Indian Ocean. A stylish infinity pool is located adjacent to the resort’s main open-air restaurant, Wild Orchid, allowing couples to enjoy a meal while still keeping an eye on the kids.
Anantara Seminyak is also home to one of Bali’s hippest bars – SOS Supper Club. Children are welcome, so parents can kick back with a sundowner and catch some world-class DJ tunes while the kids sip pink lemonade
Outside the resort, Seminyak has world-class boutique shopping, particularly in and around the streets of Jalan Laksamana. Head to Magali Pascal for floaty French frocks or pick up bespoke silver jewellery at Johnny Ramli’s Wrkshp13 on Jalan Petitenget. If the kidlets get restless, swing by retro surf shop Drifter on Jalan Laksamana for fab vintage surf gear. For rumbling tummies, Zucchini Café at Zuitton is close by and does a mean grilled cheese toasty and some of the best gourmet salads in town. Insider tip: pop out the back to the hipster boutique Zuitton for cool urban tees and crocheted bikinis.
Kids’ attractions: The Balinese are extremely family-friendly. Here are a few of our top tips for family fun:
Waterbom Bali – 17 world-class waterslides and a lazy river set in lush tropical gardens right in the heart of Kuta. Adults US$31, children US$19.
White-water rafting – Sobek, The Adventure Professionals, arrange daily rafting trips on the Ayung and Telaga Waja rivers. They also do one-day cycling trips through the Sribatu Valley. From US$67 per person.
Bali Treetop Adventure Park – Tarzan-style adventure circuit with flying foxes and treetop walk ways. Bali Botanical Garden, Candikuning. From US$13.
Naughty Nuri’s Warung – Bustling, family-friendly ribs-and-cocktail restaurant where the staff make you sing, and dance, for your supper. The children will lap it up. Jalan Batubelig, Seminyak. (62) 3618476722
2. CALIFORNIA DREAMING
It may look like the kind of place you’d normally enjoy á deux, but The Resort at Pelican Hill is more than just a couple’s paradise. Located in Orange County’s Newport Beach (think prime real estate, miles of sun-drenched coastline, and more golf courses than you can shake a club at), there’s plenty to keep the whole brood entertained. Surfing, boating, shopping and exploring farmers’ markets will keep you busy outside the resort, while golfing, fine dining and a whole host of spa offers will fill your time inside. Activities and massages aside, the villas are the real hit with families. With up to four rooms, the secluded quarters create a home-from-home feel.
Kids’ attractions: While you’re being wined, dined and massaged, Pelican Club is a great place to deposit your children for the day. Activities range from ping pong and football to arts and crafts.
3. CULTURE CLUB
Traditionally known for its vertiginous peaks, tasty cheese and, of course, the Sound Of Music, Austria is fast gaining a new reputation as a cultural hub – it’s prime hotspot being Vienna. If the thought of touring museums and seeing operas with little ones in tow fills you with dread, fear not: Austria’s hotels are well versed in catering for the whole family. At Hotel Sacher Vienna, children are treated like mini-VIPs, receiving their own welcome gift, toiletries set, bathrobe and DVD set full of children’s movies.
Kids’ attractions: Hotel Sacher organises a number of family-fun days out, including trips to Schönbrunn Zoo, Wiener Prater Fairground and Park, and Zoom Children’s Museum. sacher.com
4. FROZEN DELIGHTS
A world away from the warmer climes of the Emirates, Lapland is emerging as one of the coolest (sorry) holiday destinations around. And it’s not just arctic explorers giving the place a bash. Opportunities to see reindeer, penguins and the mesmerising northern lights make it a worthy trip for the entire family. Optimising the excitement is Hotel Riekonlinna, whose prices include a free personal visit to Santa Claus’s cabin.
Kids’ attractions: In addition to visiting Santa, lucky children will also find the hotel chock full of kids’ activities, from free sled rides and a squishy-cushioned northern lights viewing area to a children’s play space.
5. CITY LIFE
Beirut may (deservedly) have gained a reputation as a party town, filled as it is with restaurants, bars, clubs and fun-loving folk. But that doesn’t mean it’s not child-friendly. The city’s higgeldy-piggeldy layout, cute cafés and proximity to historical sites make it the perfect place to explore with youngsters. During the day, check out Jeita Grotto – an underground lake and caverns 20km from the city. At night, wander into the centre of town, where you’ll find restaurants serving delicious food, and take a stroll along the coastline, where kids can make sandcastles and watch the sunset.
Kids’ attractions: Mövenpick Beirut is perfect for families. Its pools and tennis courts will keep active youngsters entertained, while smaller kids will enjoy the educational and fun activities provided by the hotel’s Kids Club. Think arts and crafts, games and enthusiastic staff.
6. GEORGIA RULES
Few places do top-notch customer service and children’s activities as well as The Cloisters property by the Sea Island. When you’re not busy taking in the ever-changing Georgia landscape (this state has everything from mountain ranges to sunny coastlines and spectacular waterfalls), make sure you spend time in the hotel. Play tennis or squash with the whole family, relax in the spa while your children are off at kids’ club, play a few rounds of golf, or simply relax in the pool and enjoy the scenery.
Kids’ attractions: Children from three to eight years old are looked after by Camp Cloister, which runs from Monday to Saturday with a different theme each day. Nine to 12-year-olds are catered for at Club Sea Island, which offers more exciting activities such as biking and scavenger hunts.
7. CAPITAL COOL
If you’re looking for non-stop action and activities a-plenty, there’s no better city than London. Home to historical landmarks, street performances, theatres, restaurants, parks, canals, watersports and more, there’s enough to keep everyone in the family entertained. Of course, having to organise daily activities for an entire clan can be time-consuming, so staying in the right hotel is key. Check out the Dorchester, in addition to making arrangements for the whole family at attractions around the city; its sister hotel Coworth Park also has a variety of activities for kids, and is less than an hour away.
Kids’ attractions: Make like a celebrity and have the hotel plan your day out for you. Check out the Tower of London, London Eye and London Aquarium. If your family are into thrill-seeking, try wakeboarding or climb a London landmark. Alternatively, let the Kids’ Club at Coworth Park take care of the children for a day with activities such as arts, air hockey and basketball. Available for ages two and up.